While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. (Acts 13:2-4)
When considering any ministry opportunity, every believer should ask: Am I sent out or simply going?
Having parents who were missionaries, I often heard an interesting adage. “Momma called and Daddy sent.” It referred to parents pushing their children to follow their footsteps into Christian service. However, God’s gifts and calling for each person are as specifically unique as fingerprints.
Sure it would be a blessing to see children follow their parents into Christian ministry of some sort. However, there is a vast difference between following your own vision and being called and sent by God’s Holy Spirit.
Great Commission – Go!
Yes, we all have the Great Commission command. “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). However, we often overlook what else Jesus told His followers. Before doing anything or going anywhere, He told them, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). Only after they received the power of the Holy Spirit could they be “witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Waiting for Power
But we’re not very good at waiting, are we? And yet, Scripture is filled with instructions to wait. To wait on God. Await His empowering, His timing, His purpose. Ironically, there are no calls to rush on ahead or to become impatient. No, not even with the visions or callings God may give us.
I know from personal experience that going or attempting something in my own strength is never a wise strategy. Even if I jump at the precise moment God gives me a vision of service, it is best to await His empowerment. Going in my own strength or on my schedule usually happens when I get impatient, frustrated, or burned out. In those instances, I begin to question God’s call on my life.
However, waiting on Him is not idle motionlessness. I trust His guidance and timing. To equip myself, I invest the time learning what I need to know. Also, I partner with those He brings along my path, Finally, I sense His empowering presence. This is when He is the most effective witness through me.
So, the disciples obediently waited for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. And it came in blazing glory. It fanned the flames of faith that burn to this day. Now, compare that to our feeble, self-directed attempts to do something for God. The vast difference helps us understand the value of waiting for His calling, His anointing, His power, and His sending.
Individual Calling and Gifting
Who He calls, He gifts, anoints, and empowers. He won’t call me to do something for which he has not gifted me. As a personal example, I’ve always loved singing gospel music. There was even a time when I dreamed of creating a singing group and hitting the road. Actually, it runs in my blood as my grandfather was an evangelist who toured with his family singing and playing instruments at his meetings. Although I may be able to carry a tune, and some people may enjoy my singing, it is not my gifting. To run ahead with that dream would have been time-consuming, frustrating, and, ultimately, poor stewardship of the talents God has given me. Even worse, it would detract time and attention from what God truly purposed for my life—an intense passion for His Word and the ability to write and speak about it.
Rather than going in my own strength or rushing ahead of God’s timing, I’m learning to wait for His anointing and blessing. Instead of anxiously or competitively going out to “win the world for Christ,” far better it is for me to gain God’s blessing and favor by being where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do, when He sends me to do it.
So, are you going in your own strength or is God sending you?